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Posted on Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 11:53 a.m.

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson continues to struggle with consistency in loss to Iowa

By Kyle Meinke

Denard Robinson_Iowa.jpg

Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson nearly engineered a late, game-tying drive. He also had a fumble and interception earlier in the loss to Iowa on Saturday.

Melanie Maxwell |

IOWA CITY, Iowa — It was a good news, bad news kind of game for Michigan quarterback Denard Robinson.

The good news is the junior quarterback was effective yet again on a fourth-quarter drive.

For the second time this season, Michigan needed a touchdown in the final minute. And, much like against Notre Dame, Robinson engineered an efficient drive that swiftly moved the ball down field.

Unlike against the Irish, though, this drive came up short in a 24-16 loss Saturday against Iowa.

Robinson threw 13 consecutive times on that drive -- out of a hurry-up offense Michigan calls "NASCAR" -- and completed five of them. The final four, each of which came from Iowa's 3-yard line, came up empty to seal the Wolverines' loss.

No. 13 Michigan falls to 7-2 on the season and 3-2 in Big Ten play, all-but-eliminating it from contention for a division title heading into next week's game at Illinois.

But coach Brady Hoke was happy with what he saw from his quarterback under pressure.

"I thought he played well," Hoke said. "I think he keeps growing as a quarterback."

However, Hoke also knows Michigan needed that comeback because of his team's poor play for much of the first three quarters. A lot of that comes back on Robinson.

That's always bad news for the Wolverines.

Most notably, with Michigan trailing 14-6 midway through the second quarter, Robinson committed two turnovers. The first was a fumble. He put the ball on the ground while trying to evade a defender, but lost it for a fumble. It led to an Iowa field goal that extended Michigan's deficit to 17-6.

On the Wolverines' next drive, which began near midfield due to a poor squib kick by the Hawkeyes, Robinson threw an interception at the goal line to ruin a scoring chance before halftime.

It was Robinson's 12th interception of the season. No quarterback in the country had more than 12 entering Saturday's games.

"Turnovers are the biggest thing," Robinson said. "Coach Hoke always tells us we got to keep the ball, we got to keep the ball, no turnovers."

It appeared Robinson forced the ball into heavy coverage, although Hoke said he was OK with the pass.

"I don’t know if it was forced, to be honest with ya," Hoke said. "He had the receiver."

Hoke was sure about one thing, though.

"That swung it," he said of the game's momentum.

Robinson finished 17-of-37 passing for 194 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, although several of those misses came on drops by receivers, especially early.

Still, Robinson had several misfires and again dealt with accuracy issues. He overthrew his target several times, including four times on that final drive. On one, Roundtree appeared to have his man beat for a touchdown, but could not catch up to the throw.

Robinson also was held to 12 carries for 55 yards, well below his season average.

The junior also had to leave the game for a series in the third quarter due to arm injury, although there were conflicting reports as to the specifics. He said he fell on his elbow, Hoke said it was his hand and the Michigan Radio Network said the training staff was working on his collarbone and shoulder region.

Backup Devin Gardner came on for Robinson on the drive. He threw only once -- it fell incomplete, then was nullified due to an Iowa penalty -- rushed three times and was sacked once. Michigan punted after six plays.

Robinson now has left three of his past four games with injury, after leaving 10 of 12 last year.

Kyle Meinke covers Michigan football for He can be reached at 734-623-2588, by email at and followed on Twitter @kmeinke.


John Klave

Tue, Nov 8, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

Denard has not lost his touch he just does not have the skills required in a Brady Hoke scheme, my opinion. Let the young man do what he does best which we have all witnissed the record setting young man do, is there really any doubt as to Denards capabilities and is there really any other option at this point with the schedule ahead?


Mon, Nov 7, 2011 : 11 a.m.

RR come back? ok, games would be over by the 3rd losses. As bad as we played we still had a chance at the end. We are building a team for the future, playing great defense first and pounding the ball with a running game. This is the type of football that wins in the big ten. We have to reduce turnovers and mistakes. Remember the first two drives of the game at Iowa were three and outs because of dropped passes. This team has to execute better to be able to win at Illinois this Saturday.


Mon, Nov 7, 2011 : 1:38 a.m.

The new math - 2 losses and you're out. 2 losses and you're out of any Big Ten title hopes. That's the new math. It's not hard or difficult to understand. 2 losses and you're out.


Mon, Nov 7, 2011 : 9:46 a.m.

I hate to disagree with your math, but OSU and Whisky are is still in the hunt, and MSU can loose another and still get there. Michigan cant though, because they lost 2 and both of the teams they lost to are above them, so even if state and Iowa lost again, they would have the head to head advantage over MIchigan


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 10:24 p.m.

congrats al, you got your pocket qb whos not allowed to scramble when a play is coverd. good idea to keep the best set of legs in football handcuffed and not do what he does best.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 8:48 p.m.

Like him or not, Michigan will need Denard these last three games. He should be able use his feet more and not be so intent on staying in the pocket. The rolling out option would seem to best suited for his abilities. In the "it's not all Denard's fault", the tailbacks remain inconsistent. The receivers blew a few of Denard's accurate throw in this game against IA. They have three more games to get it right.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 7:47 p.m.

Against ND, denard was extremely lucky. He wasn't any better or worse then any other game. In the ND game he through the ball up for grabs, UM came down with it. He is a terrible passer beyond 10 yards. He seams somewhat accurate at 10 yards but lacks any touch. Sometimes he drills a guy who is standing 5 yards away. The thing about luck vs skill, it usually evens out. It seams like he used up his luck at ND, now he just throws interceptions.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 6:31 p.m.

I also agree with Art & Newlander on Denards struggles as a QB. I also agree that Devin seems confused out there right now as well. I also think Denard plays much better at home than on the road for whatever reason. I don't like to blame the coaching staff but do question the play calling in this game. 1st and goal from the 3 and you don't roll Denard out with a run/pass option 1 times? Instead you keep him in the pocket where he has struggled all day and there is less room for the receivers to get open. Denard is not the most accurate passer but he is the fastest player on the field. Roll him to the right and sprint toward the side line. If the DBs come up he can pass if not head for the pylon. If a LB or the D line make the containment throw it out of the end zone. Also, why did they keep running the deep routes? That is not Denards throw, they need to give him more short throws.


Mon, Nov 7, 2011 : 1:29 a.m.

Don and AZWoverine - That's why if the field isn't open or the pass isn't there you throw it out of the back of the end zone. They should have tried this on the first play or the last with 2 seconds left.


Mon, Nov 7, 2011 : 12:56 a.m.

16 seconds left and no timeouts is why Michigan didn't run Denard or anyone else, for that matter. A tackle in bounds ends the game.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 7:14 p.m.

Or Denard would have gone back to his playground roots and tried to reverse field and make something out of nothing. If he'd have been caught inbounds the clock would have ticked to zero.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 6:41 p.m.

the fact that they didn't try that at least once is why you have to blame the coaching, they probably could have done that twice and gotten the two points too.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 6:25 p.m.

Hoke wants Michigan to be a smash mouth, run it down their throat football team, then why in Gods name did he try and pass 4 times from the 3? Even if they only got 1 yard each try, that comes to a total of 4 yards which equals a T.D. Just sayin.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 7:12 p.m.

+1 to miZigan ... plus, Michigan doesn't really have a smash-mouth back *or* an offensive line that can move a D-line like Iowa's. Yet.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 6:40 p.m.

there wan't enough time with only 16secs for that many runs


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 6:17 p.m.

RichRod come back!!!!!!!

Matt Patercsak

Mon, Nov 7, 2011 : 1:12 p.m.

are you kidding me? do you remember his first season? compare it to this season.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 7:11 p.m.

I would not want him back even as OC. I think his concept of football offense has seen its day and is now waning as defenses have figured it out and have caught up. And he's too stubborn to realize this.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 6:39 p.m.

myabe as the offensive coordinator


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 5:35 p.m.

I just watched ESPN U and they showed a replay i didnt see yesterday of the TD play that was called back. Hemingway's hands were clasped together and the ball was between his elbows and coming out, it was the first thing to hit the ground on the way down............ Sucks but i dont think it was a TD now. Crap


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 6:17 p.m.

Well, the ball can hit the ground, but I didn't see any angles that showed a loss of possession.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 5:24 p.m.

Art is right on....basically echoes my EXACT thoughts on the matter: DR is a spectacular athlete, NICE young man, but he just can't make the throws. BTW: Gardner looks lost out there. He's not the answer either. These are the very predictable growing pains that come with the transition from RR's crappy, pop gun offense. Their talent overwhelms nonconference opponents, but in the Big Ten...well, it's a different animal. I think they lose 2 out of 3 to close the season: that's still 8 wins: pretty good record for this group IMO.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 5:13 p.m.

Love Hoke but he knows Denard is not a quality QB because he misses wide open receivers by 5-10 yards over and over again. If my son was a highly rated wide receiver I would not encourage him to go to UM until DR graduates. He's a great young man but not a good QB. He has not beaten one good team in almost 2 full seasons. Every quality Big 10 opponent beats him and his one bowl game was a fiasco.. I hope they give Bellamy a chance beginning next Spring, (yes I know about Shane Morris), because he deserves a shot. Look at the freshmen starting on defense now. If they truly are going to play the best player they have to give Devin and Bellamy their legitimate chance.


Mon, Nov 7, 2011 : 3:17 a.m.

"Art I don't disagree except that a QB doesn't win or lose a game by himself." No disrespect, but the Indianapolis Colts probably don't agree with that statement. Although it is a team sport and it takes the whole team to win, the QB position is THE most important position on the team. An outstanding QB can make the whole team look good. A mediocre QB can make the whole team look..well..mediocre.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 7:18 p.m.

Regarding last 4 plays...they could not move the pocket because the time was short and the longer the play takes, the less plays you get. Also if he got sacked without a time out left, they lose. The last play maybe you give a run pass option but no problem with the other 3 plays. The only thing I don't like is the constant long pass rather than intermediate to short pass, and that long pass is never completed in stride.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 6:38 p.m.

Morris probably will. But these 2 losses I put solely on the offensive coordinator. on the final 4 downs they should've given Denard the option to throw or run with a swing play.


Sun, Nov 6, 2011 : 6:16 p.m.

Art I don't disagree except that a QB doesn't win or lose a game by himself.